Election denier and recent Minnesota transplant Rick Weible is taking credit for electing election denier Monae Johnson as Secretary of State last year by claiming that Johnson herself is an incompetent fraud:
He said that he initially saw himself as a potential candidate to challenge incumbent Secretary of State Steve Barnett at the 2022 state GOP convention.
Then Weible and his wife, Gretchen, met Monae Johnson, a more palatable nominee because she previously worked in the secretary of state’s office. Johnson, who declared her candidacy in February 2022, had publicly expressed doubts about the validity of the 2020 election, refusing to acknowledge President Joe Biden’s win over former President Donald Trump.
The Weibles, who moved to South Dakota from Minnesota as “tax refugees” in 2018, viewed Johnson as someone who could help them reform the system from within.
But as Republicans approached the June convention in Watertown and prepared to select nominees for offices such as secretary of state and attorney general, Weible saw problems with Johnson’s political effort.
“We found out her campaign was a complete fraud,” said Weible, who runs a cyber security business called D3Defense in Brookings. “She didn’t have a campaign speech, so I had to write one for her. She didn’t have room reservations. She had no T-shirts, no signs, no buttons. She wasn’t even totally sure of the rules of the convention.”
…When Johnson cruised past Democratic challenger Tom Cool in the November General Election, Rick and Gretchen Weible stood behind her as she gave her victory speech, confident that at least part of their vision to overhaul election laws in South Dakota was taking shape [Stu Whitney, “Former Small-Town Minnesota Mayor Is Behind the Rise of Electoral Activism in South Dakota. He’s Just Getting Started,” South Dakota News Watch, 2023.11.06].
Weible is apparently miffed that his useful idiot has turned away from his manipulations:
It didn’t take long for fissures to develop in the partnership between Rick Weible and Johnson after she was elected secretary of state, making her the state’s top election official.
While he shrugged off the “election denier” label, blaming those denials on a lack of transparency, Johnson took a different view. She saw it as politically perilous and sought to separate herself from Rick and Gretchen Weible, despite their help with her campaign.
Johnson, who previously worked at the office under former Secretaries of State Chris Nelson and Shantel Krebs, hired former state legislator and assistant attorney general Thomas Deadrick as deputy secretary of state in November 2022, a choice Rick Weible criticized as too connected to the establishment.
…Johnson and the Weibles currently have no personal or professional relationship, according to Rick Weible.
“Monae made that decision,” he told News Watch. “She sent us an email that said she didn’t want to work with us anymore. My wife took it very personally and had to take some time off to reflect” [Whitney, 2023.11.06].
But Johnson isn’t the only one backing away from the Weibles’ whackdoodlery. Pennington County Commission Travis Lasseter, who has plenty of whackdoodle flavor in his packet, says the Weibles are undermining election integrity with their bunk:
“I was asked to give a presentation about voter fraud at a local grassroots organization called Citizens for Liberty,” said Lasseter. “I went and asked for any evidence that they had, and they said they didn’t have any evidence. But they asked me to watch the West River presentation from South Dakota Canvassing.”
…The South Dakota chart was for Aurora County and showed GOP primary vote counts trending downward, with the caption: “Why Did Votes Go Down?” Rick Weible and Pollema said they had volunteers manually charting data from TotalVote, the state’s election management system, leaving the possibility of human error.
“If they had investigated the data, which was hand typed, they would have seen that someone transposed the numbers for that county,” Lasseter told News Watch. “The high number was actually accurate, and it is documented on the secretary of state website. So they either did not verify that the data was entered correctly, or they willfully allowed it to be presented in a way to make the public more concerned.
As for the group’s allegation that dead people were listed as South Dakota voters, Lasseter said he was given two names and addresses and looked them up on the voter rolls.
“I called these people and they assured me they were not dead,” he told News Watch. “They also stated that they often get confused with their deceased father because once the father passed away, they no longer were a Junior.”
…He views Rick Weible and South Dakota Canvassing Group as partly responsible for eroding that confidence rather than bringing constructive dialogue to issues of election security.
“It’s almost as if they’re trying to get people to follow something that can’t be proven,” Lasseter said. “There is some work to do, but the way they’re going about it is not going to fix any problems. It’s going to make people not want to listen to them” [Whitney, 2023.11.06].
Hmmm… is Weible kicking up a fuss because he feels his support slipping among the far right wing?
Ugh—all this talk has me envisioning a challenge to Johnson’s secretariat at the 2026 SDGOP convention… in which Weible will rally his election deniers to run for the nomination and I’ll find myself cheering for the GOP to hang on to Monae Johnson.